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European stars gather for Portugal Masters

VILAMOURA, PORTUGAL – OCTOBER 23: Padraig Harrington of Ireland poses with the trophy following his victory during day four of the Portugal Masters at Victoria Clube de Golfe on October 23, 2016 in Vilamoura, Portugal. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

A host of Europe’s leading golfers have confirmed their participation in the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course from September 21-24.

Three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington will return to Vilamoura to defend his title alongside Andy Sullivan, who took the title in wire-to-wire fashion in 2015, and 2012 winner Shane Lowry, who is returning to the scene of his first European Tour win as a professional.

2016 Masters Tournament Champion Danny Willett brings further Major-winning pedigree to the event. He is joined by two exciting young talents – both already multiple European Tour winners – in 2016 Ryder Cup team mates Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.

Harrington’s storied career includes victories at The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008, the US PGA Championship in the same year and six Ryder Cup appearances. The Irishman captured the 2016 Portugal Masters in impressive fashion, sealing his first European Tour title in eight years.

“I’m delighted to be returning to the Portugal Masters to defend my title,” said Harrington, who has triumphed 15 times on the European Tour.

“Last year’s win was very satisfying and I was pleased to add the title to my list of tournament victories. I felt relaxed all week and great on and around the greens. It’s an event I’m very much looking forward to.”

Sullivan is looking forward to his sixth appearance at a tournament where he has enjoyed significant success in recent years. The Englishman captured the title in 2015 – his third win of the season following the South African Open and the Joburg Open – before finishing second behind a resurgent Harrington last year.

Sullivan said: “I have some fantastic memories of this event, particularly from 2015. To win any trophy is fantastic but to take a title in Europe, in front of so many friends and family, was something special. I can’t wait come back in September.”

Lowry burst on to the scene in 2009 when he won the Irish Open as an amateur, and his victory at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course three years later secured his place in history as only the second player to win European Tour titles as both an amateur and a professional. He secured the biggest win of his career in 2015 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The Irishman said: “This will always be a special event for me. I was over the moon to get my first professional win at such a prestigious event, and I’m looking forward to coming back to Vilamoura this year.”

Willett, who became the first English player since Sir Nick Faldo to don the Green Jacket when he triumphed at Augusta National last year, is returning to the Portugal Masters for the first time since 2014. The five-time European Tour winner has an impressive record at the tournament, with three top ten finishes in five appearances.

Willett said: “It’s been a few years since I’ve teed it up in Portugal and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a place where I’ve played well over the years, so I’m hoping for a good week.”

Meanwhile, his compatriot Fitzpatrick is making his Portugal Masters debut. The 22 year old enjoyed a stellar 2016 campaign, adding victories at the Nordea Masters and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai to his maiden title at the 2015 British Masters supported by Sky Sports. He also joined fellow Ryder Cup debutants Pieters, Sullivan and Willet at Hazeltine last year.

Fitzpatrick said: “I’m excited to be playing at the Portugal Masters for the first time. It’s a tournament that I’ve heard a lot about, and I’m looking forward to a great week in Vilamoura.”

Belgium’s Pieters, a three-time European Tour winner, has been on fine form this season, with three top ten finishes on the European Tour – including fourth place at the Masters. He made history at Hazeltine when he became the first European Ryder Cup rookie to win four points, after playing every match.

Pieters said: “This will be the fourth year in a row for me in Portugal, and it’s a place that I always enjoy coming back to. I’m delighted to be teeing it up at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course again.”

Tickets for the 2017 Portugal Masters, including hospitality packages, are available

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